Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"the wonders of the world of algebra"

Sir Roger... and algebra:

Currently lacking time for longer posts, so just another quotation today, this time from the eminent Roger Penrose remarking on his introduction to algebra as a youngster (taken from his Foreward to Mircea Pitici's "The Best Writing on Mathematics 2013"):
"My earliest encounter with algebra came about also at an early age, when, having long been intrigued by the identity 2 + 2 = 2 X 2, I had hit upon 1.5 + 3 = 1.5 X 3. Wondering whether there might be other examples, and using some geometrical consideration concerning squares and rectangles, or something -- I had never done any algebra -- I hit upon some rather too-elaborate formula for what I had guessed might be a general expression for the solution to this problem. Upon my showing this to my older brother Oliver, he immediately showed me how my formula could be reduced to 1/a + 1/b = 1, and he explained to me how this formula indeed provided the general solution to a + b = a X b.  I was amazed by this power of simple algebra to transform and simplify  expressions, and this basic demonstration opened my eyes to the wonders of the world of algebra."

1 comment:

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